paperless office is actually starting to become a reality
by Alan Zisman (c) 1995 First published
in Business in
Vancouver , Issue #288 May 2, 1995 High Tech
computer industry has given us are Too Many Acronyms (TMA) and
Promises (UFP). But it's time to take a look at one of the
UFPs-- the paperless office --because it is starting to show signs
of becoming a reality.
one of the
side effects of going digital will be a shift from filing cabinets
full of paper to hard drives full of data.
this has already come to pass, with e-mail replacing the huge number
of paper memos circulated through offices of the past.
in digital forms and documents, however, the quantity of paper consumed
for business correspondence and record-keeping has not fallen-- in
fact, it has continued to show a steady increase. If anything,
and laser printers have made it easier to print out multiple drafts.
revolution of the mid-to-late '80s didn't result in electronic
instead, novice publishers could use their newfound power to test
out every possible change in appearance to a document. Where once
a typewritten draft was sufficient, we now need fancy fonts, and inset
graphs and graphics.
quieter revolution has been picking up speed over the past year or
so, and while not promising to make hard copy obsolete, it may make
hard copy much less necessary.
in their early stages, the electronic publishing revolution has lacked
a single focus, but there are signs it is now coming together in a
way that may greatly affect how we all share documents and information.
exchanging documents electronically has been that no matter how much
you put into designing an attractive page, your work could only be
viewed at its best if you printed it out.
and if you sent an actual word-processor or desktop-publishing file,
it could only be viewed as intended if the recipient had all the same
fonts. Otherwise, most systems substituted plain old Courier, making
your carefully designed document look like it came off a 1927
software is providing a way around that.
Acrobat, WordPerfect/Novell's Envoy, Farallon's
and No-Hands' Common Ground all work in a similar way: simply
choose one as your "printer" (similar to faxing from your computer),
and the software converts your document into a file that can be
widely and viewed with a free viewer. The fonts you used are included
or cleverly replicated so that the document looks as you intended
it to. Most of these programs and their documents are usable across
both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
the formerly text-only Internet has been dramatically altered by the
graphics viewers for the World Wide Web. Currently, Web viewers don't
give all the design freedom of desktop publishing-- only a limited
range of fonts are supported, for example. As well, in order to post
a Web 'home page,' a document must be composed in HyperText Mark-up
Language (HTML), with text commands embedded to describe the layout.
both Microsoft and WordPerfect have released add-ons for their
word processors to enable users to easily convert documents to HTML
that similar capabilities will be built into its PageMaker page-design
ability to export
to World Wide Web HTML will almost certainly be almost universal by
As it is,
you can already
find a growing number of periodicals available electronically on the
Web as well as in print. Computer publications are among them: PC
Week, one which is not easily available in print in Canada, is
posted every Tuesday morning at http://www.ziff.com.
options are general
interest periodicals like Time (http://www
.timeinc.com/time/universe.html) and even daily newspapers like
Daily News (http://www.cfn.cs.dal.ca/
And in a
move to merge
these two separate takes on electronic publishing, Adobe has announced
that it will be cooperating with Netscape to bring the capabilities
of Acrobat into Netscape Navigator, probably the most highly regarded
isn't immune. One of the features of Microsoft's Windows 95 is the
Exchange, which will allow users to send 'rich-text' documents as
e-mail to other WIN95 users, complete with fonts and graphics-- again,
full page design.
quite come together yet, and paper documents will still be more
than documents on screen.
of electronic publishing do suggest that we're likely to be reading,
storing, and sharing more and more digitally.